iOS 12 beta: Is it faster than iOS 11?

Apple made a big deal of how iOS 12 would be faster than iOS 11, especially on older devices. But does the beta show signs of delivering this much-needed performance boost?
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Contributing Writer

iOS 12: First look at the developer beta

If you're used to running iOS 11 on an older iPhone or iPad then you'll know just how sluggish the platform feels on devices like the iPhone 6. But Apple has promised that iOS 12 will feel faster.

Well, is it faster?

I got a lot of questions about iOS 12 beta performance following the Q&A I posted the other day, so what follows are some expended thoughts on performance.

I've had the developer beta of iOS 12 running on some of my older devices in the test lab for the past few days, and while I don't normally like to comment on performance related issues when it comes to beta software, because this is something Apple brought up, it's an area of interest.

On the benchmarking front, testing with Geekbench does indeed show iOS 12 beta to be faster than the latest release of iOS 11, so that's a good start. But benchmarking is a long way off real-world usage, so I've also been interested to see if iOS 12 beta feels faster in general use.

After a few days of use, here's what I've discovered.

First off, app launch doesn't feel any faster. In fact, I'd say that iOS 12 feels slower and laggier than iOS 11. Again, it's early days to draw any firm conclusions, but right now I'm not feeling it. Maybe this will improve as iOS 12 goes through development, or maybe as apps are built to run iOS 12.

This is something that I will keep an eye on over the coming weeks and months.

But during the WWDC 2018 keynote, Apple software chief Craig Federighi highlighted two other areas where iOS 12 was designed to be faster -- keyboard display would be up to 50 faster, and getting to the camera would be as much as 70 percent faster.

Interestingly, both of these do feel noticeably faster in iOS 12.

While it's hard to benchmark -- this isn't the sort of thing you could do with a stopwatch -- these two aspects of iOS 12 do feel much improved compared to iOS 11. Keyboard display in particular feels far smoother and more reliable, but accessing the camera, especially from the lock screen, is more reliable (under iOS 11 on the older devices I was finding myself having to try two or three times to bring it up, while under iOS 12 it works the first time).

Both of these improvements -- since people use the keyboard and camera a lot -- go a long way to making the iOS 12 beta feel like it's going in the right direction in terms of performance.

How Apple plans to get you to use your iPhone less with iOS 12

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